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Community event helps keep Hebron House's Overflow Shelter open

Area churches put on fundraising concert, raised more than $16,700

Feb. 26, 2013

The men who utilize the Hebron House of Hospitality's Overflow Shelter knew the timetable.

If enough funds weren't raised, the Northview Shelter, 1721 Northview Road, would not stay open through the end of April, the scheduled closing date.

"With it being so cold, they were asking about it," said Cathy Malkani, director of development at the Hebron House of Hospitality, which operates four homeless shelters in Waukesha.

The 35 men who come to the Overflow Shelter on a nightly basis won't have to ask anymore. That's because a musical event organized by First United Methodist Church raised more than enough money to keep theshelter open. The Feb. 17 event also included music ministries from St. Matthias Episcopal Church, St. Luke's Lutheran Church and St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Traditional choirs, bell choirs, a trombone group as well as the Children's Choir of Waukesha were all part of the concert.

The event was free but donations were accepted and the 400 individuals as well as business groups who attended sure did their part. Malkani said more than $16,700 was raised, surpassing its $10,000 goal.

"It was amazing," Malkani said. "All the churches have always been excellent and have supported us on a regular basis, so for everyone to pull together to keep the Overflow Shelter open is just great."

Fundraising took time

This development was the latest in a step-by-step process to keep the Overflow Shelter available to homeless men in Waukesha. With the shelter operating out of only donations, the shelter hit a roadblock when it delayed the opening of the shelter from its originally scheduled date of Nov. 15 to Dec. 1. By that date, the shelter had raised just under $30,000.

Since that amount only allowed them to stay open through February ($55,000 was originally thought to be needed through April), the fundraising efforts continued.

Snow added to total

A month-and-a-half into the new year, they were up to $48,000 and inching closer to their goal. But another expense was realized: removing snow on the property of the shelter, the old Northview Elementary School.

"It was more than we anticipated," Malkani said.

As a result, the total amount needed to keep the Overflow Shelter open through April 30 was now closer to the $60,000-mark.

"It was a great turnout, as people from all over the community and some even beyond Waukesha wanted to give back," said Dan Schwerin, minister at First United Methodist Church.

Schwerin said working with Hebron House is something the church takes great pride in.

"Every year we seem to do this kind of (charity) for them and it's an amazing effort," Schwerin said. "Previous downtown clergy have had an incredible commitment to work with the homeless to provide this kind of support."

More challenges await

Malkani and her staff will probably need this support once again next year as she said outside of Waukesha County giving a $25,000 grant in 2011, the Overflow Shelter has not received any government money.

And with Hebron House having to look for a new location for its Overflow Shelter, there will be plenty of challenges in the coming year.

Malkani said it's the final year of a three-year agreement at the Northview location that was only temporary.

"We don't own that building and can't be in that location next year, so the next step is securing a new location for the 2013-14 year," Malkani said.

A Homeless Task Force Committee meets regularly to discuss a new location and funding.

"We're starting all over again," Malkani said.

But for now, with the help of the community, Malkani is just grateful that the doors at the Overflow Shelter won't be shut early this year.

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